Conversational Agents to Support Couple Therapy

Berkan Yuksel, A Baki Kocaballi

Session: Care-ful Design - Thursday 2022-12-01 15:30-16:20 AEDT
Paper Track
In-Person Presentation


There is a growing rate of marriages and relationship dissolution as couples surrender efforts to reconcile. Couple therapy provides psychotherapeutic solutions for this problem. However, it is not easily accessible due to scheduling difficulties or cost. Conversational agents (CAs) could provide more scalable access to couple therapy. This study investigates the suitability of conversational agents for individual therapy for couple problems. Couple Therapy Chatbot is a Wizard-of-Oz intervention using cognitive-behavioural couple therapy (CBCT) with individuals via an instant messaging platform. 12 participants trialled Couple Therapy Chatbot via single-session therapy. A qualitative self-reported questionnaire provided suitability insights. Thematic analysis revealed that while some participants appreciate deep and constructive responses and human-like empathy, others dislike generic and impersonal responses. Using CAs for couple problems appears to be a suitable application and may assist in mitigating relationship dissolution. Future work can assess efficacy using automated CA solutions against larger and more selective samples.